Medicare Advantage (Part C) has been cleared by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand their definition of healthcare. In addition to offering coverage for medical expenses, dental, vision, and hearing care, some Medicare Advantage plans are now planning to offer more services that are not directly considered medical treatments, like air conditioners for people with asthma, non-emergency medical transportation, and even healthy groceries. With a goal of keeping beneficiaries healthy and independent longer, this diverges from the one-size-fits-all Medicare model most people know.
This step is seen as an effort to catch up to the rest of the developed world’s standard for what is considered healthcare. In California, a state lauded for having progressive healthcare, the Institute on Aging is a program that offers health, social, and psychological services for seniors and people with disabilities. The program helps people transition from a skilled nursing facility back into their home and community by providing things like bathroom grab bars and transportation to doctors’ offices. Programs like this that take preventative measure to keep beneficiaries healthy and independent save an average of 30% in healthcare costs.
While this expansion will be beneficial for people enrolled in Medicare Advantage, some worry that this expansion will leave those with Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) out in the cold. This could also mean higher premiums for those who buy Medicare Advantage plans with these extra perks. Medicare Advantage is still developing these plans and will likely start selling them in 2019.